September 19, 2023

The opposition does not understand Fiji’s agricultural sector

The opposition does not understand the state of Fiji’s agricultural sector, says Agriculture Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy.

Speaking in parliament last week, he said the sector’s output had grown steadily over the past decade despite several external shocks.

“I don’t know what data they are referring to or who is doing their analysis for them,” he said.

He said that currently the agricultural sector is valued at approximately $1.5 billion.

“Overall, agriculture’s contribution to GDP in 2021 was 8.1%.

“If we remove the sugar sector’s contribution to GDP of 1.1%, the non-sugar agricultural sector contributes 7% to overall GDP.

“Many times in this Parliament I have explained that it would be wrong to say that five decades ago agriculture’s contribution to GDP was 21% or more than 20% and that it has now fallen to 8% and therefore agriculture is in decline,” he said.

“No, agricultural production is not decreasing, agricultural production has increased over time, but what has happened is because of the non-agricultural sector, some of those that did not exist at that particular time have now been added or have come into being or have grown.

“For example, tourism, manufacturing, the service sector and the industrial sector, all of these sectors have now grown over time and naturally the growth rate of these sectors has been greater than the gradient, the slope , so to the share of the contribution of agriculture in the whole. GDP has decreased, but in agriculture the volume of production has not decreased. “At the moment, 1.5 billion is not a small fee for a small developing country like Fiji.”

He said the journey to this level of production was not easy.